Published on March 20, 2014
By: Beckie Tegethoff & Katlyn Morin
What is it? Symbolism is using an object or a word to represent an idea. Stories incorporate symbolism to help convey meanings of the story.
Young Goodman Brown
In “Young Goodman Brown” his wife, Faith plays a very impacting role as a symbol. The pink ribbons on her cap are mentioned multiple times, giving her a pure and innocent image. Goodman Brown views Faith as the good in his life. He has her to go back to as his reason to be a good man.
When Goodman Brown is faced by the devil in the forest, the situation is relatable to biblical times when Eve is tempted by the serpent. Ironically, the staff that the devil offers to Goodman Brown, looks like a serpent at the top of it and gives him an uneasy feeling. Eventually, he takes the staff and at the moment his world is flipped upside down. It is the beginning of his view of everyone being evil, and losing faith in the community including his wife. The staff represents him losing his faith in humanity.
Symbolism can be found in names: Guy: Symbolic of a typical father trying to support his family. Little Guy: Symbolic of a typical son, innocent; wants to be like Dad. Lili: Symbolic of purity, virtue and hope.
Symbolism can be found in objects: The fire represents the burning desire rising in Guy’s soul to change his son’s destiny. He wanted his own life to be different than his father’s and realizes that it is not different. He would do anything to change the future for his son.
For Guy the hot-air balloon was his freedom from the pain he felt from his inadequacies as a father and provider.
Symbolism can be found in actions: Little Guy had been given an important part in the school play. He kept practicing the lines of his speech and was always worried about forgetting the lines. This was symbolic of Guy’s role as the father to provide for his family. He felt he was not fulfilling his expected duties as a father because he didn’t have a job and he couldn’t afford a better home for them. Guy was able to make the hot-air balloon fly. This was symbolic of his desire to become a new person; to show that he was capable of being a better person. His suicide was symbolic of his freedom from the life that he wanted to escape. Lili said “My husband, he likes to look at the sky.” This was symbolic of Guy’s dreams for the future.
By using symbolism authors can provide deeper meaning beyond what is actually written. It ties the reader to how they are feeling. Can you imagine how it would feel to read material with no added symbolism?
Works Cited Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
Symbolism. It is the number of the harmony and the balance. It is also the number of the divine grace. The number 5 is a characteristic of the man.
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1. By: Beckie Tegethoff & Katlyn Morin 2. What is it? Symbolism is using an object or a word to represent an idea. Stories incorporate symbolism to help ...